Paper Type: Rives BFK white 250 gm/m-2
Paper Size: 11" x 15"
Image Size: 5" x 7"
Edition Size: 50
Inks Used: Gamblin Portland Black
It was certainly audacious of me. Why would I, a trained scientist, think that I could take a class in printmaking? At fifty I was on permanent medical leave from work at the university, but protease inhibitors had caged my retrovirus a bit and I had begun to have more energy. Here I was in a class with real artists, some with studios of their own or galleries representing them! The first assignment was to cover a zinc plate with asphaltum and scratch some design into it. Okay. I can do that. I chose a fossil from my collection and placed it on the bed of my scanner.
I thought of the day I was given the specimen: 10 August 1982. Two weeks earlier she had filed for divorce, and I had moved out of the house. Roger G., my colleague at the restaurant inspection division, had invited us both for supper before he knew we had separated, and seemed so uncomfortable when I told him my wife would not be coming. I brought my son, Dylan, aged four, but my two-year old daughter Erin was fussy and stayed with her mom. In fifteen more days she'd be having open heart surgery, but of course I didn't know that at the time. At dinner Roger seemed a little embarrassed, perhaps to ease the pain he saw me struggling under, he gave me the fossil, saying, "I thought of you when I saw this on my trip."
We had talked about my recent degree in evolution, it was of course, a perfect gift. I had long known about the Green River Formation of Wyoming, famous for the immense quantity of fossils of the Eocene Period 60 million years ago. Knightia oecaena is among the most common of species in the strata. Often whole schools of fish are found fossilized together. Rock hound shops throughout the western states sell them. I was glad to finally have a specimen.